On Thursday night the Colts head into Houston for what will likely be the biggest game of the season for both teams. This is a rematch of the AFC Wildcard matchup from last year’s playoffs where the Colts won in Houston 21-7 giving Deshaun Watson his first two-possession loss since high school. In addition, with both the Colts and Texans currently sitting at 6-4, there is a very good chance this game decides the division. With that said, the team that does not win the AFC South probably will still have a very good shot at an AFC Wildcard spot. Here is what to expect from Thursday’s showdown in Houston.
Both the Texans and Colts have had to battle through major injuries this season, and the injury bug will remain a big story-line for this game. The Texans lost JJ Watt for the season and have a few other notable players that may not play on Thursday. Their secondary is banged up with S Adams, S Reid, and CB Johnson all listed as out in addition to S Gipson and CB Roby both being listed as questionable. In addition, they are also waiting to see if star WR Will Fuller will be able to go as he is currently listed as a game-time decision.
The Colts have had to manage injuries to star players on both sides of the ball this season including QB Brissett, WR Hilton, RB Mack, WR Funchess, LB Leonard, CB Desir, S Hooker. The team is finally starting to get healthy, but some players’ statuses remain in question for Thursday’s game. Mack is out with a broken hand, and S Willis has also been ruled out. On the bright side, the Colts top corner Pierre Desir is set to make his return this week. TY Hilton is listed as a game-time decision, but I would be surprised if he doesn’t play this week especially with his dominant history in NRG Stadium. The other two players to pay attention to are CB Rock Ya-Sin and TE Eric Ebron who are both listed as questionable.
Keys to the Game:
The Texans boast a high-powered passing attack with MVP candidate Deshaun Watson and his arsenal of weapons. If Will Fuller plays, their WR duo of him and DeAndre Hopkins will be tough to stop for the banged up Colts secondary. However, if the Colts can limit the big plays out of the Texans’ air-attack, they should be in good shape.
For the Colts, a big key will be establishing the run. The Colts have one of the most dominant run-blocking offensive lines in the league, but this week will be much tougher without star RB Marlon Mack. Look for a committee approach between Jonathon Williams, Jordan Wilkins, and Nyheim Hines out of the Colts backfield. This will be a huge factor in this game as it will open things up for Jacoby Brissett, and it will also keep Deshaun Watson off the field.
This game should be an extremely close one, and ultimately it will come down to a few deciding plays. For the Colts, it is imperative that TY Hilton plays. I believe he will be active which gives Brissett one of the best deep threats in the league to throw to. Seeing that Hilton has always thrived playing in Houston, I expect him to have a couple big plays that tilt this game in the Colts’ favor.
Final Score: Colts 27 – Texans 21